Not immune to digital transformation, Hollywood needs this data tech


The media and entertainment industries are not immune to the digital transformation. In fact, these industries are facing two data challenges: data collection and data storage. As digital technology produces Ultra High Definition assets and as the number of new outlets for people to consume entertainment increase, there is a need to develop standards for archiving with high-levels of security and advanced search capabilities.

The massive volume of data captured in these industries drives companies to move to cloud storage. While the cloud provides increased flexibility and agility while remaining relatively inexpensive, there are high costs involved in moving data to or from the cloud. So accessing data on a regular basis adds up. Some organizations are turning to hybrid solutions for lower costs, increased security, and ease of processing.

“People think the cheapest way to do extra processing is to send it up to the cloud and do a lot of processing up there,” said Joan Wrabetz (pictured), vice president of marketing at HGST Inc. (a subsidiary of Western Digital Corp.). “Unfortunately, the data has to go with it, so the challenge [the media and film industry] faces is how to keep some of the data assets onsite where they’re more protected, they’re not subject to risk … Hybrid comes in because not only is there an explosion of data, there’s an explosion of processing requirements,” she explained further.

Wrabetz and Lisa Martin (@Luccazara), co-host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio, discussed data challenges and opportunities for the industry during this week’s NAB Show in Las Vegas. (* Disclosure below.)

This week, theCUBE’s spotlights Joan Wrabetz in its Women in Tech feature

Data and storage: Is hybrid the answer?

Wrabetz believes the cost benefits of storing data in the cloud can be combined with a hybrid solution to help the industry keep costs down. She explained that companies want to maintain the data where is it’s protected and not have to pay to move it around. They still want all the benefits of on-demand processing with thousands of processors in the cloud. The answer is that the data needs to be accessible to the workflow that might happen in the cloud, and a hybrid solution to do this becomes more feasible, according to Wrabetz.

“So hybrid workflows are about moving the processing around, not necessarily having to move all the data around and keep the data secure. And that is a big priority for all these media and entertainment companies to figure out,” she stated.

Chief Technology Officers at entertainment companies know that the industry is undergoing a big disruption and the key to survival is data-related technologies, Wrabetz explained. Accuracy and quality of content are going up, but consumption is changing, so delivering content in various ways requires storing it in different ways. 

“Underneath all of that is: ‘How do I  keep it? How do I store it?. So all these disruptive changes are driving a proliferation of massive amounts of data,” Wrabetz said.

CTOs are battling data-storage constraints, and from her vantage point, she believes it is necessary to build an archive strategy. Wrabetz pointed out that historically keeping copies of an old movie was more of an insurance policy, but in today’s environment, it is a strategic asset.

“So the first part of developing a strategy for getting good use out of that data and monetizing it is understanding where the value might be,” Wrabetz said.

Part of rethinking the strategy is determining what the critical assets are and how to store it cost-effectively. Most film companies don’t keep “dailies” because they add up to about two petabytes of information to store, she explained. However, she believes that it is important to know the value of the information by taking an offensive approach to building strategy instead of the defensive track most filmmakers use today.

All customer-facing industries know that the customer experience is king, Wrabetz said, and she has a compelling view of the competition between the movie theater experience versus outlets such as Netflix and how they use data. 

Where companies like Netflix shine is in gathering consumer data. Movie theaters lack the ability to know the user in the same way, so it is hard to personalize the experience. Wrabetz feels there is value for filmmakers in having that information.

“Netflix is in a very interesting position in the industry in that they own so much information about you and me, the people who watch movies. They know all about our preferences. And then when I go to a movie theater, the guys that produced the movie are not getting that from me,” she said. 

Film production could benefit from this type of data analytics and the instant feedback from consumers. This information could help filmmakers modify a movie on the fly by changing the storyline, the ending or by shifting characters in and out of the film, Wrabetz stated.  

“So, I think … the film industry’s understanding and knowing the behaviors and the preferences of individual consumers are critical to success in the future,” she said.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s independent editorial coverage of the NAB Show. (* Disclosure: Western Digital is sponsoring theCUBE’s coverage at the show. Neither Western Digital nor other sponsors have editorial influence on content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE